How to Use It by Andrea Vaughan

In the back of the band room, I play the suspended cymbal and Travis Sanderson plays the triangle. I get all the best snare drum parts, but I turn them down so that I can stand closer to him and talk between accents on those 8-minute long pieces. Let Liz Van Dyke play the snare. I have business to attend to. I keep time in the back of my head while I watch Travis struggle to count. I feel my eyes go dead with power. While the teacher lectures the woodwinds, I lean back in my plastic folding chair next to Travis and ask who he’s taking to homecoming. I’m sure that word gets around–that I don’t kiss behind bleachers or say yes to dance invitations, but I like to watch them try. I tell him that I haven’t eaten in four days. I tell him I’m afraid of dogs. Dysfunction is a sweeter honey than confidence. I make him come near me. I tell him I hurt my knees while skateboarding, but I keep skateboarding anyway, I like to hurt. I drink out of a gallon jug of water. I don’t eat lunch at school. What’s wrong? they ask me, coming closer. They cup their hands around my chin, the revolving door of hopeful boys. Boys like to fix things more than they like to love things. I make myself cry on command. Nothing to it. It’s just that, I say, I’m so sad all of the time. This is true, but now I know how to use it like a weapon, like bait. I can make them pay attention to me. I am casting the line. I get them to bite.

 

 

 

 

Andrea VaughanAndrea Vaughan‘s first poems were raps about her elementary school and love letters to her parents. She spent most of the last decade in Los Angeles, where she ran an after-school tutoring program for an inner city non-profit organization. She is currently working on her PhD at University of Illinois, Chicago. Andrea’s work has appeared in decomP Magazine, Darling Magazine, and Madrigal Quarterly.

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